If Wayne Rooney’s time at Manchester United really is coming to a close, it seems that Bayern Munich can be struck from his list of potential destinations. Stories have circulated in the German media that England’s premier attacker might have been an object of some interest for the Bundesliga champions. That is, though, a possibility that can be pretty much ruled out after Bayern’s sporting director, Matthias Sammer, confirmed in the bluntest terms that the club have no interest in signing him.
“I don’t know what Rooney would bring to the Bundesliga,” Sammer said. “I can’t answer that. I can answer that we have great respect for Wayne Rooney but there has been no contact with him. There is no contact and he’s not on the agenda. No, no. Absolutely not.”
In the past this kind of talk has often been the prelude to a protracted saga of seduction. Real Madrid denied having any interest whatsoever in David Beckham, or in Cristiano Ronaldo, before proceeding to sign both from United. In this case, though, Sammer was simply stating the facts.
With Bayern preparing to take part in their third Champions League final in four years, and with all the talk around the Allianz Arena of Bayern’s rejuvenation as a club geared towards producing ÔÇô or at least poaching and nurturing ÔÇô the best young players, it is clear a well-seasoned 27-year-old striker of steadily declining mobility does not fit the business plan.
Currently the Bundesliga champions’ biggest problem in attack is how to squeeze Arjen Robben, Thomas M├╝ller, Franck Ribery and Toni Kroos into three available spots, with Pep Guardiola also sure to have a list of preferred new-season targets in Rooney’s area of the pitch.
Whether there ever was any contact from Rooney’s side is also open to question. The suggestion is that his representatives may simply have made known his general availability to Europe’s top clubs. But it is still another avenue closed down among a shrinking roster of clubs with the fiscal muscle, let alone the willingness, to take on Rooney’s ┬ú250,000-a-week salary and ┬ú40m valuation: silly money, by any sensible measure, for a player who was dropped for United’s biggest game of the season against Real Madrid.
With Rooney’s side now disputing Sir Alex Ferguson’s suggestion that a formal transfer request was made, and coming so soon after the acrimonious flirtation with defection to the blue half of Manchester two years ago, it all adds up to another clumsily executed episode of sabre-rattling for a player who signed for United eight years ago. He has given sterling service but still somehow managed to get himself booed by a minority of supporters at United’s dewy-eyed title-winning parade through Manchester on Monday.
With Bayern so forcefully ruling themselves out, Rooney’s list of likely suitors appears to have dwindled away to just Paris Saint-Germain, a club of eccentric spending and recruitment patterns who are intent on buying their way both to Champions League success and the kind of footballing uber-brand status only a tacked-together collection of the world’s most glamorous players can buy.
Bayern, on the other hand, have their sights on Robert Lewandowksi, a player operating at a higher level than Rooney, who is three years younger, and would cost less.
One familiar face who seems intent on being at the Allianz Arena next season is Robben. The Dutch winger has been linked with a move to Manchester City, but he suggested during Bayern’s media day ahead of the Champions League final that he will stay in Munich until the end of his contract in 2015. “There are always so many rumours,” Robben said. “I’ve already said I’m just concentrating on Bayern and nothing more. We want to win the title on the 25th and that’s the only thing that matters for me.”
Along with the Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes, – who confirmed that he has yet to make a decision on whether he will retire at the end of the season – Robben was one of several Bayern players to suggest the German champions were undeserved losers to Chelsea in last year’s final. It is a wound that clearly still runs deep, for all the talk of approaching this year’s campaign as an entirely separate event. “Last year it was a huge disappointment,” Robben said. “I don’t think we deserved to lose. We deserved a lot more but we didn’t get it. Now we have raised our level again and we have a lot of confidence.”